Early-Season Grades for Texas Rangers' Offseason Acquisitions
The Texas Rangers are getting some mixed performances from their offseason acquisitions early into the season.
General Manager Jon Daniels brought in Shin-Soo Choo as a leadoff man, traded for Prince Fielder to add left-handed power and re-signed Jason Frasor because of his success in the bullpen last season. He also traded for Michael Choice for added outfield power and signed J.P. Arencibia as the backup catcher.
Things haven’t gone quite as planned yet, but it is still very early in the season. Players will find their groove at some point and contribute to this offense. It is something they need to do while the starting rotation recovers from a plethora of injuries.
The Rangers have only played eight games and there is a long, long way to go. But we are going to grade the offseason acquisitions and their performances so far.
The grades will be given to players acquired via free agency or trade. Hitting and fielding will be taken into account for positions players, and pitching will be graded solitarily.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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J.P. Arencibia, C
J.P. Arencibia was thrust into the starting role behind the plate after Geovany Soto tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee.
The 28-year-old backstop has never been known to hit for average and it is showing early in the season. A career .211 hitter, Arencibia has just two hits in 16 at-bats and has struck out four times. He has drawn only one walk and recorded one extra-base hit.
He is splitting time with Robinson Chirinos and has only played in five games. He hasn’t thrown out a base-runner in two attempts and has an error to his name. Although, in his defense, it seemed as if he and Tanner Scheppers got crossed-up and it looked more like a wild pitch than a passed ball.
Arencibia can hit the long ball, which is the only facet of his hitting that will improve his grade. Until he starts putting them in the bleachers, expect the former Tennessee Volunteer to be a non-factor at the dish.
Michael Choice; OF
Michael Choice had the hottest spring of any Ranger this year, but he hasn’t transferred it to the regular season.
To be fair, he hasn’t gotten very many opportunities. He only has been to the plate nine times, recording his lone hit in his first at-bat of the season. He has struck out twice and his one hit is the only time he has reached base.
The 24-year-old has started one game so far and opportunities at the plate have been few and far between. If Mitch Moreland continues to hit well, increased plate appearances for Choice seems unlikely.
Again, the club is just eight games in, but it looks like Choice could be heading down the same road that Jurickson Profar went down last season.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF
The $130 million it took to get Shin-Soo Choo is paying off early for the Rangers.
Choo is having the second-most productive season thus far, with Alex Rios being the most productive. The 31-year-old is doing everything that he was brought in to do for the club.
Choo leads the team in in OBP (.444) and is tied with Adrian Beltre in the walk department (five). He has scored six times and has a double and triple to his credit, but he's yet to hit a home run. Choo is giving the guys behind him a chance to be productive at the plate.
On top of that, he has already recorded an outfield assist and already earned his first walk-off with the club.
He missed out on an A grade because of his strikeout total. Choo leads the club with seven strikeouts and at that pace will top 140 Ks by season’s end. That isn’t the kind of total you want from your leadoff hitter.
Nevertheless, Choo has produced the most of any Ranger acquisition and will need to continue that trend throughout the season.
Neal Cotts, RP
Neal Cotts was arguably the best reliever the Rangers had in 2013 and re-signed with the team back in December.
Cotts has made four appearances and has been pretty solid. He has struck out at least one batter in three of the four games and earned his first hold of the season on April 6.
His grade took a big hit for blowing a one-run lead on April 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays. He walked two batters and allowed two runs. That is less than a third of the runs he gave up during the 2013 season.
Again, with the exception of giving up the lead late in one game, he has been good. Cotts is the best southpaw in the bullpen and is going to be making many more appearances this season.
Jason Frasor, RP
Like Cotts, Jason Frasor came back for another year with the club, signing another one-year deal a month before free agency began.
And it looks like he will continue to be. He has yet to give up a run, even though he allowed two inherited runners to score on April 8 against the Red Sox. But he proved shortly after that why he was worth being brought back, striking out Jonny Gomes and getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out with runners at second and third.
He has allowed three hits and one walk in three appearances, also recording two strikeouts in 3.0 innings. Frasor is the only Ranger reliever yet to allow a run.
Prince Fielder, 1B
As you might have heard, the Rangers biggest move of the offseason involved the departure of Ian Kinsler and the arrival of Prince Fielder.
The club wanted Fielder to add power from the left side of the plate. He has yet to show off that power and hasn’t done much of anything, for that matter.
The 29-year-old has struggled to get going this year, posting a dismal .182 batting average in 33 at-bats. He has yet to hit a homer but has managed two doubles. He recorded his first multi-RBI game of the season on April 8 against the Red Sox, which was also his second multi-hit game of the year.
“Things aren't happening like he wants. He's either a little ahead or a little behind in his timing. But he's Prince Fielder. I still believe in him."
And I am in the same boat. He has struggled to get it going, but once he gets his timing back the Rangers should get the Prince Fielder of old.
Joe Saunders, SP
The signing of Joe Saunders was a head-scratcher at best.
Saunders has never been a successful pitcher at Globe Life in Arlington, posting an 8.58 ERA in eight starts over the course of his career. In fact, with the exception of the home parks of the Angels, Mariners and Diamondbacks, he has given up more earned runs (41) and homers (14) in Arlington than any other park he has pitched at.
And although his first career-start as a Ranger was on the road, being in a Ranger uniform didn’t reverse the trend. Saunders gave up four earned runs on six hits and walked three over 3.2 innings on April 4. He left that game after being struck on the left foot by a line drive.
That line drive has now put Saunders on the 15-day DL, and that could be his last start in a Ranger uniform. Colby Lewis is expected to start on April 12 per MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, and Matt Harrison could join the rotation as early as April 23.
If so, Saunders’ career in Texas will be short-lived. It will be a shock if he makes another start barring an injury to another starter.